Dispatches from the fringes
By ODT | Posted: Sunday March 28, 2021
Someone made a week for me this week. Well, it wasn’t just some one, it was more like some LOTS, the organisers, the volunteers, the actors, the directors, the costumers ... everyone who came together to make Dunedin Fringe Festival. An uncountable amount. Though, at time of writing, my show count is six out of the 10 I’ve got tickets for and a chance viewing of at least a couple more. My face hurt for half a day (in a good way) after Chris Parker and his felted ping pong pig, my heart hurt (in a sad and slightly angry way) after watching Day Boy’s toxic antics and everything in me is tingling (in a blush of satisfied nostalgia) with the 1930s after an evening of Glass Menagerie. And between me writing this and you reading it, I’ll be all over the shows, in The Changing Shed, at the prison for a specially devised you need clearance sold-out show and at Otepoti Theatre Lab’s Thief.
As if 10-plus shows in a week wasn’t enough for this country girl gone city, I’ve also spent the week writing poems. Not so unusual there, but the twist on this is that I’ve spent the week writing poems that aren’t mine. Specifically, I’ve been writing poems that belong to about 130 students in years two to about five in about six different primary schools in South Dunedin. Why? Because it was World Poetry Day last week, and with Dunedin City of Literature and because of the National Library’s Read, Share Grow programme. Though to be fair we were all more like Talk, Rhyme, Rustle Up A Title than read, share and grow. We talked about the things they like in the classroom, the places they like to go outside. It’s been so fun hearing about what they prefer about their schools and about their learning and I’m pleased to say that I’m in a position to confirm that more schools than not have yellow slides and slide rhymes with hide. Book with look. School is cool and especially the monkey bars. Actually, some of the places we went have school pools, too. How cool?
I don’t remember an awful lot about my own years at primary school. I do recall the half-moon climbing frame that only the big kids were allowed on. I waited and waited and waited to be a big kid and then our school moved sites and the half-moon frame didn’t come. The not-yellow slide at the new place in no way filled the half-moon gap in my longings.
School might have been cool, but I definitely wasn’t. Example. That one time I got picked to be in a show with grown-ups which had a big chicken and fairies and stuff and I nearly didn’t make it because of the chicken pox. I was allowed in, late and unrehearsed, to join the rest of the chorus — the show must go on! — but for ages after I was known as the spotty sprite. Not my finest moment on the stage. Another memory: asking my teacher how to spell babcia and being told off for making up words before she relented and wrote "bapja" in my book. I felt a lot on the fringe of things as a kid. Also, I remember every time a writer came into school. At least I tell myself that. Two of them, I tell myself, were Fleur Adcock and Benjamin Zephaniah. And I was maybe 9 and Fleur Adcock told me that poems don’t have to rhyme. I don’t even know if that’s true or possible but that, in a week of so many stories, is mine.